Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Fairfax Community Mural

Los Angeles muralist Art Mortimer painted the 7-panel Fairfax Community Mural on the wall in the Canter's Deli parking lot in 1985. The photo-collage style mural depicts the Jewish history of Los Angeles from 1841 to 1985.

The first panel of the mural includes the constitution and bylaws of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles, one of the first charitable groups formed in Los Angeles. The Benevolent Society provided religious services and founded a Jewish cemetery in Chavez Ravine (now the site of Dodger Stadium):

This panel of the mural depicts the Jacoby Brother's Department store in downtown Los Angeles. The black and white color scheme and the photo-collage style give the mural a nostalgic quality:

In 1914, Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky produced "The Squaw Man," the first feature length movie filmed in Hollywood. In early 20th century films, many Native American characters were played by Jewish actors in "redface."

The Canter brothers moved their delicatessen business from New Jersey to L.A.'s Boyle Heights in 1931. At that time, Boyle Heights, which is now primarily Latino, was the main Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles. In 1948, another Canter's Deli location opened in the Fairfax district:

There have been Jewish residents in Los Angeles since the mid-1800s, but there was not a large influx of Jews to L.A. until the 1920s when Jewish immigrants who originally settled on the East Coast were drawn to economic opportunities in Southern California. Los Angeles now has the second largest Jewish population of any metropolitan area in the United States.
The detail below includes an image of Sandy Kofax pitching for the Dodgers. The curved bandstand in the upper left portion of this panel is the Hollywood Bowl:

Canter's Deli and Bakery is located at 419 N. Fairfax Avenue at Oakwood. It is open 24 hours everyday and I recommend a visit there for anyone who loves baked goods, traditional deli food, and classic 1950s diner decor.

View Canter's Deli in a larger map


  1. I love this mural. Did you try the food at Canter's? It's good. :)

  2. Kind of wish they'd stayed in Boyal Heights and I still miss the loss of the name Brooklyn avenue in favor of Chavez Blvd (why not change one of the numbered streets?)

    Hi Art

  3. canter's is the best deli in the world. everyone says so. i am very forunate to live a few blocks from it.